Basic Research provides the seed corn for practical intervention and invention and has become todays “linear Innovation”. Theoretical Research and practical applications have a popular appeal as well as an underlying truth.
From the past, research has made it clear beyond all doubt that discovering the fundamentals of basic sciences is absolutely essential to national and economic security. New products and new processes do not appear full grown, they are founded on new principles and new conceptions that have ben painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of success.
A nation which depends upon other nations for its new basic scientific knowledge will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position in world trade. Advances in Research when put to practical use means more jobs, higher wages ,shorter hours, more abundant crops, more lessons for recreation, for study, for learning how to live without the deadening drudgery that has been the burden of the common man from the past years.
Bush Vannevar, MIT Proffessor
It is now a six months since the founding of the National Occupational safety and Health Research Agenda (NOSHRA);it posed a series of critical research questions for occupational safety and health (OSH)
- What are the current and future major occupational safety and health risks in Uganda?
- What are the trans-boundary trends and how can we best create and use synergies in research and innovation in occupational safety and health?
- How do we best transmit research into practicable solutions for diverse public and private stakeholders, i.e. for workers, companies and policy makers?
Since then, NOSHRA has positioned itself as an active, well-structured research network that comprises of member institutions and Organisations from public and private sectors.
With more than 100 researchers and experts affiliated to these national research and technology institutes, public authorities and social insurance organisations, NOSHRA can be seen as a large, multi-disciplinary pool of OSH experts.
As such, the network aims to give a wider national and regional voice to evidence-based OSH research. One of its key objectives is joint collaboration in fields of common interest and the network is to carry out collaborative research projects.
The National Cost of OSH
It is estimated that people in developing countries like Uganda are exposed to 80% of the global occupational hazards. These hazards are associated with risks that are likely to cause diseases, injuries, and severe fatalities to workers. Majority of occupational diseases are occurring almost exclusively in developing countries and are expected to double by 2025. In today’s society, Ugandans are working more hours than ever before. The workplace environment profoundly affects health; simply by going to work. Each day, we face hazards that threaten our health and safety. Occupational accidents and diseases cause immeasurable human suffering to victims and their families, impact negatively on enterprises’ efficiency and productivity, and entail major economic losses for society as a whole. The incidence of workplace accidents and diseases also has a significant cost implication on the sustainability of decent work amenities such as health and employee injury insurance schemes, and workman’s compensation.
Risking one’s life or health should never be considered merely part of the job. In 2006, the Ugandan government passed the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act to ensure Ugandans the right to “safe and healthful working conditions”. Yet, workplace hazards continue to inflict a tremendous toll in both human and economic costs. According to the ILO estimates, every year over 2.3 million women and men die from a work-related injury or disease. An addition, over 313 million workers are involved in non-fatal occupational accidents causing serious injuries and absences from work. This has a resultant negative effect on the efficiency, effectiveness, productivity of workers and administrative expenses, which in turn affects the profitability of enterprises. While the devastating effects on workers and their families cannot be fully calculated, the most salient cost to workers is the loss of quality of life, and even premature death. The ILO further estimates that lost working time, workers’ compensation, interruption of production, and medical expenses costs 4 % of the global GDP (roughly 2.8 trillion US dollars). This does not include the cost of occupational diseases. These occupational injuries and diseases create needless human suffering, a tremendous burden upon health care resources, and an enormous drain on our nations productivity.
On the national scene, there have been few studies into the cost of poor OSH practices. However, the human and financial cost of this daily adversity is vast and highlights the economic burden of poor OSH practices. For example, the transport sector in Uganda demonstrated that the cost of poor OSH practices by road users has a direct implication on the cost of healthcare by the country. Between 2012 and 2013, 18,368 crashes were reported out of which 14.2% were fatal, 48.3% were serious and 37.5 % were minor in nature. 283,114 traffic offenders were fined under the express penalty scheme for the various traffic offences. About 200,000 traffic accident victims registered annually in Uganda with 1,200 fatalities. 60% of Mulago Hospitals’ budget is spent on treating accident related illnesses, totalling to Ugx. 1.8 trillion – about 3% of Uganda’s GDP. Poor OSH practices are thus a limiting factor for Uganda to attain the middle income status that it aspires. These poor OSH practices shrink productivity, cost of production, quality of goods, and hence the overall competitiveness on the regional and international market.
In 2015, Exceed Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (EIOSH) and its partners in the public and private sectors developed the National Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda (NOSHRA) to provide a framework to guide occupational safety and health research into the next decade, not only for EIOSH, but also for the entire occupational safety and health community. We aim at interesting at least 500 organizations and individuals outside EIOSH to provide input into the development of the National Occupational Safety and Health Research Agenda (NOSHRA). This attempt to guide and coordinate research nationally is responsive to a broadly perceived need to address systematically those topics that are most pressing and most likely to yield gains to the worker and the nation. Economic constraints on occupational safety and health research are increasing, making even more compelling the need for a coordinated and focused research agenda.
NOSHRA Priority Research Areas
Disease and Injury
- Road Traffic Accidents
- Safety-related attitudes and behaviour.
- Allergic and Irritant Dermatitis.
- Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Fertility and Pregnancy Abnormalities.
- Hearing Loss.
- Infectious Diseases.
- Low Back Disorders.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremities.
- Traumatic Injuries.
Work Environment and Workforce
- Emerging Technologies.
- Indoor Environment.
- Mixed Exposures.
- Organization of Work.
- Special Populations at Risk.
Research Tools and Approaches
- Cancer Research Methods
- Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment.
- Exposure Assessment Methods.
- Health Services Research.
- Intervention Effectiveness Research.
- Risk Assessment Methods.
- Social and Economic Consequences of Workplace Illness and Injury.
- Surveillance Research Methods.